This photo of part of the website is photographed in Washington, on Nov. 29, 2013.

Susan Hogan, AP

25% of health enrollment records may have flaws

  • Article by: ROBERT PEAR
  • New York Times
  • December 6, 2013 - 11:33 PM


– The Obama administration said Friday there could be problems with the enrollment records for a quarter of all the people who signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace in October and November, raising questions about whether consumers will get coverage in time to pay for their medical care next month.

Even now, the administration said, it may be sending incomplete or erroneous information to insurers on 1 of every 10 people who try to enroll.

Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the agency was working with insurers to correct the errors and resolve discrepancies in records kept by the government and by insurers.

In some cases, the government did not notify insurers of people who enrolled online at The government refers to these people as “CMS orphans” because the consumers successfully completed the application process and selected health plans, but the government did not send the information to the insurers.

An administration official said the government would do everything possible to “rescue the orphans.”

In other cases, Bataille said, the government sent more than one enrollment notice for the same person to an insurer. And in some instances, she said, the information sent was incorrect. A child may have been listed as a parent, a name may have been misspelled, or an address may be wrong.

Moreover, officials said, some people who signed up for a health plan are listed in insurance company records but not in the government’s records. In those cases, consumers may have canceled enrollment in a health plan, but the government failed to inform the insurer.

The errors and omissions resulted from technical problems that crippled the website in its first weeks, Bataille said.

With hundreds of hardware upgrades and software changes, Bataille said, the site now works well for the vast majority of consumers who use it. However, insurers say they are still seeing problems in “back-end systems,” which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers.

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